The Grierson Trust announces the winners 2012
The Grierson Trust takes great pleasure in announcing the winners of Grierson 2012 – The 40th Anniversary British Documentary Awards supported by Sky Arts HD and Coutts.
Hosted by award-winning artist and cultural commentator, Grayson Perry, the star-studded awards ceremony took place tonight at the Empire Leicester Square where the great and good of the documentary world came together to celebrate another outstanding year of film-making.
Viewers will be able to see highlights of the awards on Sky Arts 2 (Monday 12 November, 8pm) as part of a mini-season which will also showcase a selection of films from past award-winners accompanied by short documentaries about the making of the winning films.
Dawn Airey, Chairman of The Grierson Trust opened the evening saying: “This year’s ceremony is all the more notable as it is now 40 years since the death of John Grierson and the creation of these awards. Since its inception we have presented 140 awards and this year demonstrates what rude health the genre is in with a record number of entries.
“From relatively modest beginnings the Grierson Awards are now truly international and rightly considered the documentary world’s equivalent to the Oscars. The past few months have demonstrated more than ever the vital role factual film-makers continue to play in not only illuminating the world around us but also in exposing wrong doing and injustice.”
The first prize of the evening was the Clockwork Capital Most Entertaining Documentary and was awarded to director Phil Cox for The Bengali Detective a heart-warming story of a Kolkata team of private agents. When not busy catching criminals Rajesh and his men have showbiz ambitions. Chairman of the jury, Terry Back said the “film stood out as exquisitely crafted and excellent entertainment.”
The Deluxe 142 Best Documentary on a Contemporary Theme – Domestic award attracts the largest number of entries every year and this year was no exception. The 2012 award went to Terry Pratchett: Choosing To Die. Author Sir Terry Pratchett has Alzheimer’s. The film follows him as he flies to Switzerland to join one man in the final moments of his assisted suicide. The award was accepted by the executive producer, Craig Hunter and Sir Terry Pratchett. Jury Chairman, Simon Dickson felt the film was “beautifully cast and genuinely revelatory.”
In The Strange Science of Decay, George McGavin gets his hands seriously grubby in a film of remarkable, and sometimes repugnant beauty. Producer and director Fred Hepburn collected the Vimeo Best Science Documentary award. Roger Graef, Chairman of the judging panel commended the film for its “originality, vivid storytelling and determination to delight – and disturb – the audience as well as inform.”
The evening’s spotlight then turned to the ones to watch in the future. The judges were impressed by the authenticity of the burgeoning filmmakers in the CTVC Best Newcomer category. Panorama: The Truth About Adoption was highly commended by the panel, but the award on the night went to director Leo Maguire for Gypsy Blood, an intimate portrait of gypsy father and sons. Jury Chairman Sarah Waldron described it as “a film that would have distinguished itself in any category.”
The Dochouse and The Bertha Foundation Best Cinema Documentary award went to Bobby Fischer Against the World and was accepted by founder and chairman of Dogwoof, Andy Whittaker. The story of the prodigious rise of the American chess master kept the panel “completely hooked from beginning to end,” commented Chris Harris, Chairman of the judging panel.
A compelling account of the lengths that Bosnians went to, to save their city’s cultural legacy was the subject of the next winning film. Love of Books: A Sarajevo Story won the ITN Source Best Historical Documentary. Melanie Fall, Chairman of the judges commended the film as “a magnificent history film about the importance of history.” The film’s director Sam Hobkinson collected the award.
It is only the second year for the Sky Arts Best Student Documentary award which this year went to Karen Winther, producer and director of The Betrayal - an autobiographical piece in which she confronts her past and the choice she made in her teens as a member of an activist group. The judges were delighted with the high calibre of the nominated films with Chairman Christopher Hird commenting that “there were several among them that could be given a mainstream broadcast straight away.” He added that the great accomplishment of the winning film, was that “it was structurally sound, felt confessional without being self-indulgent and had a strong sense of time and place.”
A Culture Show Special then took The Open University Best Arts Documentary crown. The film examined the diverse work of conceptual artist Jeremy Deller. According to Jury Chairman, Emma Hindley, director Jack Cocker offered an “entertaining, charming and brilliantly accessible insight into an artist who works in a somewhat controversial domain.”
A visceral portrayal of an injured marine’s return from the Afghan battlefields to the nightmare of American suburbia won the Shell Best Documentary on a Contemporary Theme – International. The producers of Hell and Back Again, Mike Lerner and Martin Herring, picked up the award. Morgan Matthews, who chaired the jury said that the winning film “stood out for its impeccable craft and ingenuity in sound, picture and editing and for being one of the all-time great filmic portraits of the consequences of war.”
Oscar-winning filmmaker Kevin Macdonald took to the stage to accept the highly coveted Coutts Grierson Trustees’ Award. Charlotte Moore, Vice-Chairman of the Grierson Trust and BBC Commissioning Editor Documentaries introduced him saying that Kevin had “already made an outstanding contribution to the art and craft of the British documentary.... a masterful storyteller, a director who is always trying to get to the core of his subjects and explore human truths. His desire to play with the documentary form makes him a unique talent in the industry and brings an energy and creative enthusiasm to every film he directs.”
Finally, the last award of the night was the Envy Best Documentary Series, an award that recognises the twin virtues of exceptional story-telling and editorial ambition. The prize went to Protecting our Children and was accepted by the series producer and director, Sacha Mirzoeff. The film gives centre stage to those tasked with the gruelling job of safeguarding Britain’s most vulnerable. Mandy Chang, jury Chairman felt it “thought provoking, intelligent and well crafted.” But it was a close call, and the judges also commended Educating Essex which they found “insightful and uplifting in a way that took them by surprise.”
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